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EXCLUSIVE: Classicalite Q&A with Nicholas Young on Winning a Bessie Award, Rhythm In Motion, STOMP, SoundMovement and Michelle Dorrance

By Maria Jean Sullivan m.sullivan@classicalite.com on Nov 16, 2014 02:19 PM EST

Tap dance aficionado Nicholas Young was recently honored with a Bessie for Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design for his percussive tap platforms in Rhythm in Motion. As an Artist-in-Residence for the American Tap Dance Foundation, Young has also had the opportunity to work with the incredible Tony Waag.

More recently, Young's been found collaborating with Michelle Dorrance, the Insitute for Rhymthic Arts and even running his own dance company, SoundMovement.

Classicalite recently caught up with the soon-to-be legend, himself, to see what's next for him. 

Classicalite: Congratulations for winning a Bessie Award for Outstanding Music Composition for your work at the American Tap Dance Foundation's Rhythm in Motion. How are you feeling about this magnificent honor?

Nicholas Young: It's wonderful to be included and recognized among so many amazing artist, dancers and musicians. I was really excited to see tap dance included in a category based in music and sound, and to have won was much more than I could have expected. It's really exciting and like you said quite an honor.

Clite: Tell me about the creative experience behind Rhythm in Motion and how you implemented the hardwood floor with electronic sound technology to allow for a deeply layered live composition?

NY: Well, currently I am an artist in residence with  the American Tap Dance Foundation so I was thrilled when Tony Waag gave me a slot in his production. He was very accommodating and understanding to the elaborate set up and without question gave me ample time to set up, sound check and work out the kinks, which is very generous when working with several dancers or companies. As far as the instrument, it's been a long process that has lasted at least two years and is very much continuing to develop. First was just the desire to find a way to internally mic tap platforms with a contact mic, so I could play with different hardware effects. With some research I learned to build contact mics myself which turned out to be cheap and effective. That lead me into playing with software options for looping, controlling and playing other sounds. I quickly discovered the possibilities were limitless using software and honestly they just continue to grow.

Clite: How did you get involved with STOMP?

NY: A close friend and colleague of mine Max Pollak suggested me for one of the invite-only auditions. Simple as that. I ended up being the only one from my group that continued on with the company. In the end I spent close to 10 years with the show, and it's safe to say it changed my life. I'm incredibly grateful for the time I spent with STOMP and even more so for the skills and awareness I developed as a performer during that time.

Clite: You now have your own New York based dance company, SoundMovement. How did you initiate this project?

NY: I've been choreographing since my late teens early 20's. I started with Tapestry Dance Co. of Austin, TX and eventually became a resident choreographer for the company. So, the desire to choreograph and experiment with movement and sound has always been a part of my adult life. Creating a company of my own was the next step. Also in New York there are so many collaborative and open situations, I had a craving to create an environment where I could explore my personal voice and ideas.

Clite: Tell me about your upcoming work with Michelle Dorrance for the Jacobs Pillow 2014 season?

NY: Well we premiered our show, ETM: The Initial Approach, and had a very successful experience. In the process learning a lot about what works and what doesn't, and where we want to take these ideas for the next show. We workshopped so many ideas for this show and still have many more so we are planning to revisit ETM in NYC. We have plans of adding visuals as well as revising much of the music, adding new pieces and experimenting with some more options for audio manipulation. It's very exciting and Michelle is one of my best friends so there is nothing more gratifying then being in a self built tap dance playground with her and her company Dorrance Dance.

Clite: Your work with the Institute for the Rhythmic Arts in truly inspiring. Any upcoming events? Any chance of taking the institute beyond Chicago?

NY: Well IFTRA actually started in New York. Currently there are now two incarnations, IFTRA NYC and IFTRA & CHRP. In NY we tend to do shorter, one day or weekend workshop series. Where as in Chicago it is a full three week emerging professionals program. I'm very excited about it and it's something I have been building in my minds eye for years. It is based on the idea of exposing dancers to as many variations in rhythmic studyies as possible, and in turn exposing drummers and musicians to a process where they can discover their movement potential, and how that effects their personal craft. We have only had two in NYC so far but I'm hoping to have another one this January or February. There are also plans for a DVD series that teaches the basic core exercises that have developed from the program. I'm happy to announce the expansion of our faculty as well which now includes Michelle Dorrance in the line up for both NYC and Chicago.

Clite: Anything else you would like your readership to know?

NY: Only to be on the look out for what's coming. The Tap Community is on fire right now and it's incredibly exciting to see the diverse work that is being presented. Please take the time to see what's out there. Support tap dance and continue to support live theater and dance. Things are changing, and tap dance is once again leading audiences into a completely new and innovative experience. We are music, we are movement, we are culture and we are progressive! Hahaaaaaaaa!!!

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TagsEXCLUSIVE, Bessies, Rhythm In Motion, STOMP, SoundMovement, Michelle Dorrance, Classicalite Q&A, Nicholas Young